How To Work With an Optimization Consultant

I get a lot of questions about working with an optimization consultant. People ask ‘what do you really do’ or ‘what does a conversion rate optimization professional really do for my business’. Sometimes I get people who know about A/B testing and just want to A/B test everything, which can be a mistake. It’s like their intention is to A/B test to profitability, which is not something that you can actually do. It’s a really slow road if you are trying to tweak small things to get to a point where your product or service is profitable and generating income.

This is what you should expect from working with an optimization consultant.

First off, you want somebody who knows a lot about marketing. I do user experience, but that’s more optional. For instance, if you actually have a product and you want a consultant to take a look at the customer experience as well. In that case, UX is just a bonus.

What you really want to have from a consultant is an understanding of marketing optimization.

You want them to really understand all the different elements of your marketing funnel. So you want them to understand what you are doing with outreach and how to improve that. They should know about how to write a cold email. They should know tactics that work there. They should know about advertising; how to draw people in. All the top of funnel stuff, they should really understand that. Those things are part of paid media. Paid media is where you reach out and you are paying to reach them. Like a paid Facebook or LinkedIn ad.

The other side is content marketing, also called “owned media”. That’s going to be your website, your blog, your email list, things like that. Those are channels that you earn by building them over time. They should understand how to work with those channels as well.

Now is your consultant going to be a complete expert in every single area?

Probably not. For example, I work with another consultant for search engine optimization because that’s not my strong point. I know enough about SEO to get the basics, I can do those on my own. But if I really want somebody to help me with SEO I’ll reach out to another consultant who specialized in it.

Are you going to hire a conversion rate optimization consultant to do design for you? Maybe, maybe not. I do design websites, I design SaaS products, and other things like that. But not everybody does.

What you want is somebody who knows a lot about these different areas.

They may not be the person who actually does the execution, but they should have a really broad range of knowledge so that they understand what each step entails and how to optimize each part.

That gives you a lot of options when it comes to what consultant to work with. You’ll be best off working with somebody who specialized in whatever it is you want to focus on, but who understands the rest of the parts that connect to that. So if you are redesigning your website, you’ll want someone who understands design, copywriting, marketing, and customer experience. But you’ll also want them to understand the different channels that bring people in, like paid social or cold outreach, if that’s what you are using.

At its very highest level what an optimization consultant does for you:

You’ve got somebody who really understands your marketing funnel. And they can take a look at it, do an audit, and make recommendations to improve it. Or they can help you set up a new funnel and outline a plan and get ideas on how to do it best. Then they can work with your team–if you have a team of copywriters or a team designers. Or maybe they help you vet a candidate, to help you make sure that you’re getting good service for your money.

Or, on a deeper level, they can actually help you execute on that plan. Maybe they have a team or maybe they’re like me and they’re experienced in design and copywriting and marketing. In that case they can help you execute on all of it as opposed to just the higher-level planning.

You notice at this point I have not said testing yet.

And testing is what most people think of when they think conversion rate optimization. They think A/B testing.

A/B testing is really hard to do if you’re a small business because it takes a lot of traffic.

It takes a lot of people going to your site, a lot of people reading your emails, etc. in order to get a valid test. Now, if you’re going to test, do you have to test perfectly and have industry-standard statistical significance? Do you have to be absolutely certain? Do you have to have 95% confidence in order to do any testing whatsoever? No, you don’t. But that doesn’t give you a pass to do sloppy testing.

You should have a consultant who understands what it means to evaluate on those kind of criteria. They should be able to understand how to assess the results. That way you know if you have a 50% confidence level (in which case you might as well flip a coin) or if you get to a reasonable point where you can say ‘okay we’re learning from this, we’re applying best practices, and we’re moving forward.’ That’s what you want if you’re working with an optimization consultant for A/B testing.

They should also be able to guide your testing.

If you get into A/B testing you really want to know where you’re putting your money. A lot of people ask me to do small tweaks, which aren’t the best investment. For example, they want to know ‘is the headline going to increase my conversion rate?’ Most times I’ll tell them that that type of test is not worth your time.

If you have a hundred thousand people coming to a landing page and the sole point of that landing page is lead generation, then yes, go ahead and you can test your headline. You can see if that test will increase conversion rate by something like 5%. That’s a big deal if you have hundreds of thousands of people coming. However, if you’re only looking at around two thousand visitors a month then that’s not a lot of traffic to work with. You definitely can’t just tweak little things. An optimization consultant should understand that and advise you on how to make the most out of that traffic.

The more effective way to test in that situation is to test large concepts.

For example, I was talking to a client and they wanted to test a pop up. I recommended they test three very different types of pop ups. We started with the normal pop-up as their control. Then we added a variation with a video in it. Then we added a third variation that looked like a chatbot. See how those are very different concepts? When you test really different concepts then you’re going to see bigger results, which are easier to measure and more meaningful even with a smaller amount of traffic. And that’s where you should be putting your time.

Hopefully that helps explain what you should be looking for when working with an optimization consultant so you can get the most out of your investment. I want to make sure you can actually understand what they’re doing, how you’ll be partnering with them, and how to decide if they are the right fit for your business. Let me know if you have any questions!

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